Free, ad-supported streaming (FAST) platforms are becoming a go-to add-on for paid services like virtual multichannel video providers (vMVPDs), as well as connected device makers.
One of the most notable recent developments: YouTube is talking with midsize digital media companies, including Brat TV, Vox Media and Pocket.Watch, to join its $65-per-month YouTube TV service, according to The Information.
Why? YouTube — along with short-form video competitor TikTok, which is now pushing into connected TV devices — is looking to grab more of the ad dollars flowing into streaming services watched primarily on TV screens, rather than phones, laptops or tablets.
In integrating FAST channels — which resemble traditional TV channels, including ad breaks — YouTube TV would be following the lead of other live TV streamers such as Philo and Sling TV, as well as Samsung TV Plus, Amazon, Roku and Vizio.
Free channels also let paid platforms offer users cost-free value-addeds, of course.
YouTube TV already offers about 106 channels, including 32 of the top 35 cable channels, such as Lifetime, A&E and History. It is also one of only three live TV services to offer Hallmark, Hallmark Drama and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, according to The Streamable.
Based on a Protocol report in September, the industry has also been expecting Google to announce that it will add “dozens” of free TV channels to Google TV — the Android-based smart-TV platform that powers Chromecast and already offers more than 30 streaming services and apps — as well as to smart TVs from makers including Sony and TCL.
nScreenMedia has projected that FAST revenue will hit $2.1 billion this year and nearly double to $4.1 billion by 2023.
AVODs (ad-supported video-on-demand) platforms are also part of the race to integrate.
For instance, this week, Fox’s Tubi announced that it’s being integrated in LG smart TVs in North America, Mexico and Australia.